Talk:Fitness (biology)

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Does this page need any sources? Should it have a "sources needed" box at the top of the page?

Isn't lifetime reproductove success a measure of fitness? What about r , the natural rate of increase?

I've redirected "reproductive success" to this page as they're pretty similar concepts, so it might be good to mention the term somewhere and any differences in the uses of the terms. Joe D (t) 21:45, 10 July 2005 (UTC)

Section "Fitness is a Propensity"[edit]

This section is a mess. Firstly, there is vigorous debate over whether fitness is a propensity. Secondly, neither quote illustrates the claim that fitness is a propensity. Thirdly, the quotes aren't equivalent. This whole article needs a rewrite, and one good organising principle would be to distinguish between the theoretical role of fitness in biology on the one hand, and the debates over the interpretation of fitness in philosophy of biology on the other.


It describes the capability of an individual of certain genotype to reproduce

I think that might not be broad enough. I guess chemical evolution isn't considered part of biology, but "fitness" in this sense could be applied to that, too. And "reproduction" only applies to things that reproduce. Horizontal gene transfer is not really reproduction, for instance, but a bacteria that transfers its genes in this way is more fit than one that doesn't. — Omegatron 16:53, 22 November 2006 (UTC)
It is not just the capability of an individual with a particular genotype to reproduce, but the capability of an individual with a particular genotype to reproduce with VIABLE offspring...a detail most often forgotten/left-out.Aglo123 (talk) 20:12, 18 May 2013 (UTC)


I really think that this page need to be rebuild. Current textbooks (e. g. Templeton's Population Genetics and Microevolutionary Theory) give a much better account of this central concept. Fitness itself is a phenotype, by definition. It's just the phenotype we use as reference. This is so because selection can only "see" diferences in survival probability. Hence, reproductive fitness is the natural choice for a reference phenotype. Ultimately, fitness is a measure of survival probability of a given genotype. It means that a complex interplay of allele frequencies, survivability, fecundity, fertility and mating success are needed to define fitness properly. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Jarretinha (talkcontribs) 21:30, 30 October 2009 (UTC)


Just came across this article. Seems, from its current state & looking through history, particularly prone to vandalism. Perhaps, as so often, symptomatic of some profound insecurity in relation to the subject on the part of the vandals. That's as may be. Is there a case for locking? Time it's taking me to check back on the origin of the un-footnoted assertion in the final sentence of the lead ("J.B.S. Haldane when discussing it with John Maynard Smith is reported to have described it as "a bugger") causes me reluctantly to conclude that there is. What do others think? Would much appreciate responses. Wingspeed (talk) 17:59, 9 November 2009 (UTC)

I was just about to propose removing that sentence: it doesn't seem important and a citation hasn't been found since 2009... I'm going to go ahead and remove it. richard.decal (talk) 07:55, 9 August 2010 (UTC)


I must admit to having little knowledge on the subject but I am surprised to see environment given so little mention. Being effectively a fixed criteria does not lessen its impact on any calculation of 'fitness'. It is what the genotype, phenotype or whatever must fit. Surely it must be an equal partner to the gene in any definition. Hence I feel very suspicious about the article not mentioning it, in the same way that I'd be suspicious of an expert on food who appears totally ignorant of the fact that it is for eating. Any thoughts? kimdino (talk) 16:59, 23 November 2011 (UTC)

I'm sure it plays an integral role in the determination of an allele's fitness in a given population, however, so do competition, predation, symbiosis, natural catastrophies, etc. The point that you're missing is that there would be no specific direction to go in if there was an environment section. The only thing I could think to include would be a sentence stating "Environmental factors play a large role in shaping the fitness of individuals in a population." - Aglo123 (talk) 20:21, 18 May 2013 (UTC)

New section[edit]

A section based on the controversy on how to define fitness needs to be added to this article. There is no consensus on the definition of fitness:

According to Stearns (1976: p. 4), fitness is `something everyone understands but no one can define precisely ', a view seconded by Mayr (1988) and de Jong (1994). There seems to be no consensus on what it is, how to define it, and how to measure it by either biologists or philosophers (e.g. Fisher, 1930; Kimura, 1956, 1958; Williams, 1966; Denniston, 1978; Mills & Beatty, 1979; Rosenberg, 1982, 1991; Brandon & Beatty, 1984; Nur, 1984, 1987; Sober, 1984; Murray, 1985b, 1990, 1997; Rosenberg & Williams, 1985, 1986; Endler, 1986; Byerly & Michod, 1991a, b; da Cunha, 1991; Ettinger, Jablonka & Falk, 1991; Kleiner, 1991; Lennox, 1991; Maynard Smith, 1991; Ollason, 1991). Biologists and philosophers are unable to define fitness precisely because their conception of natural selection is too vague.

Murray, B. G. (2001). Are ecological and evolutionary theories scientific? Biol. Rev. 76: 255-289. Latenightjogger (talk) 20:56, 30 August 2015 (UTC)

We'd need something better than this to make additions you indicate to the article, for instance other secondary sources that confirm that Fisher etc were unable tod efine it precisely. that'sna sticky looking list of biologists, you need to link to those we have articles for as well. ♫ SqueakBox talk contribs 21:22, 30 August 2015 (UTC)